From infrastructure to convincing parents, a potential U-17 World Cup held in India could quite easily revolutionize the system. But only if we let it...
The perks of hosting an U-17 FIFA World Cup are varied and numerous in a country like ours. Where apathy is the main state of the authorities involved in non-cricketing sports and mentally grumbling at the fact that they aren't involved in cricket their main activity, we cannot expect very much to be done without a push. And luckily, this World Cup might just be that very push we need.
With FIFA desperate to improve the state of the game in our country and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) happy to take whatever they can from the international body, it seems like our country is almost being cajoled into a state of footballing decency. Be it by hook or crook, we will all be grateful to have transparency and standards in our country instead of the corporate mess the domestic league is fast becoming.
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So what will be the best thing about holding a World Cup at whichever age level? Well, the primary thing would be infrastructure. We've seen what the FIFA World Cup did to South Africa. Despite all the hits and misses and technical hitches, they have emerged from the event as an infrastructurally stronger footballing nation than they went into it. Even if we take the example of the Commonwealth Games, whatever the high-profile scandal, the fact remains that the infrastructure is still in place and can be used.
The direct consequence would be the ambition, potential and foundation to step up and possibly dream of hosting the FIFA World Cup in our proud, chaotic land one day. If we can impress ourselves and the world enough with this U-17 World Cup, we could potentially make a bid for the World Cup one day. And more importantly, FIFA could deem us worthy enough. After all, they'll have been the ones initiating the infrastructure by providing the AIFF with artificial pitches. They should know best what we can and cannot do.
We would also, for a short while, have the eyes of the world upon us. Maybe we aren't as interested in seeing what our footballing youngsters are up to but rest assured, the world is. The prestige in hosting this event is undeniable. The media exposure as a potential footballing destination can only be good for a flagging domestic league like ours, Rohan Ricketts or no Rohan Ricketts.
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Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would be doing the country's Generation-Y a huge favour. If we can rouse their interest in the game, or get those interested in the game out in the open through this, the benefit this U-17 World Cup will have done India will really be beyond anything we could have foreseen. Hopefully it will influence not only the children but also their parents in being encouraging towards a potential footballing future their child may be looking at.
But this is all strictly speculative at the moment. There is, of course the small matter of actually winning the World Cup bid before we get too hopefull about all the good things it should potentially bring to our nation. FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke has already warned us that India needs to prepare for the bid to be approved, just like everyone else. But really, this is not an opportunity to let go of...
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